Contradictions and Cold Warriors

Essay Cuba

July 30, 2006|By LILLIAN GUERRA | LILLIAN GUERRA,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Interpreting Cuba's reality through the everyday experiences of islanders and assessing its current and future prospects have become increasing concerns of U.S. writers in recent years. While the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s brought little change in U.S. policy toward Cuba, the same process resulted in radical shifts in the Cuban economy as Fidel Castro's government weathered a massive humanitarian crisis and adopted state capitalism in order to survive. Today, after nearly 16 years of developing foreign investment and international tourism, the Cuban state has seemingly left the nationalist refrain of "Cuba for the Cubans" behind.

Although Cuba is still officially socialist, striking contrasts between the state-owned capitalist sector serving a foreign clientele and the collapsing infrastructure of Cuba's national health, education and transportation systems tell another story. Cuban citizens, especially younger ones, cannot help but feel betrayed. The contradictions behind their struggles have become the subject of a growing number of foreign writers whose works offer an outlet for criticism and analysis that Cuba's government-controlled media cannot provide.

The Man Who Invented Fidel: Castro, Cuba, and Herbert L. Matthews of The New York Times

Anthony DePalma

PublicAffairs / 308 pages / $26.95

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